Mike, Lung Cancer Survivor

Mike Horton portrait photo, head and shoulders

"Believe me, that free lung screening initiative saved my life. It can save yours, too."

I will never forget the day Dr. Archer handed me the flyer about the lung screening initiative.

It was late August 2017, I was 70. My wife encouraged me to see the doctor because she said I seemed a bit tired lately. I assumed it was because I was getting older.

But Dr. Archer knew I had been a smoker. I smoked for about 45 years but quit nine, maybe 10 years ago, thanks to the smoking cessation program at Ballad Health’s Health Resources Center. He said the screening was for older guys like me who used to smoke.

So, I did the CT scan, and that’s when they found the lump in my lower left lobe.

As soon as they found the lump, everything went fast. I went to see Dr. Richard McNeilly, a pulmonologist, who did a bronchoscopy, a test so he could examine my airways. He confirmed that the lump was cancer.

From there, I saw my oncologist Dr. Malcolm Matthews and then went to Johnson City Medical Center and met Dr. Anthony Palazzo, a cardiothoracic surgeon. He did my surgery.

Afterwards, Dr. Palazzo came into my hospital room and told me he had cut out the tumor and also checked my lymph nodes and said they were clear.

"I didn’t have cancer any more."

What could I say? I just said, “Thank you Lord. Thank you, Dr. Palazzo. Thank you everybody.”

I didn’t even have to do any chemotherapy. I was home three days later and by the first week of November – just two and a half months after my diagnosis – I was back at my job. I actually work at Ballad Health, in the IT department.

I have to go back to the doctor every six months to have a CT scan, and the last time I also had an MRI.

I’m clean. No more cancer.

And again, I thank Ballad Health for that.

Shortly after my surgery, I was talking to a friend at church about my lung cancer and that I found out about it through the free lung screening. He said he knew Tammie Heaton, the outreach manager at Ballad Health who set up the campaign. I said, “When you see her, you got to give her a big hug from me.”

Well, he emailed her and got us in touch with each other. I got to meet her. And when I did, I just bubbled over with thanks and gave her a great big hug. It was her initiative that saved my life.

Tammy invited me to speak to the Better Breathers group. They meet every month at the Kingsport mall. I just told them my story and about how I found out about my cancer. And I told them about the great doctors who helped me to become cancer-free.

I know there’s a lot of people who are actually afraid to get that CT scan, to find out what it is they have. I’ve heard some people say they’d rather not know. That’s a mistake. You need to know because there are professionals out there who can help you.

Do the CT scan. Don’t wait until later.

Believe me, that free lung screening initiative saved my life. It can save yours, too.

Learn more

To find out more about low-dose CT scans to screen for lung cancer.